Thursday, 31 August 2017

Fizzling Out

Last week, with Festival in its fourth and final quarter, I had been contemplating how I’d failed to fully engage with Edinburgh’s festivity. My idea of having a ‘year off’ had fallen flat: I felt like a distant spectator. Sure, I performed at various gigs although, with only a few exceptions, these were generic, perennial events. 
I’d supported some friends by attending their Fringe Shows; I soaked up the atmosphere on the Royal Mile, hob-nobbed at the Usher Hall among the International audience, and schmoozed about at the Book Festival.

But it was after a Writers’ Reception at the latter that a strange lacuna appeared in my recollections. One minute, I was cycling home; the next, I was in an ambulance.
The crew were concerned that I’d sustained a head injury because I wasn’t wearing a helmet. Once I’d fully come to, I knew what was wrong, although it would be some hours later that an X-ray scan confirmed it.
The last time I broke my collar bone, I was 12. Cycling about the small estate where I lived, I zipped around a blind corner, swerved to avoid an elderly gentleman, and landed on the tarmac with a loud crack.
Sometimes things happen that defy understanding. They often occur in a so-called split second. One minute, everything’s ticking along; then, in the twinkling of an eye, nothing is quite the same. It is that ellipsis between those two states which is so hard to fathom.
In writing, it is often that ‘mystery bit’ that longs to be told.
This is why we don’t rely on memory – falsely retrieved or otherwise – neither on fact – which, it seems, can be presented duplicitously – nor on truth – for which there may be many interpretations. No: it is the amorphous imagination that we plumb in order to dredge the depths of human existence.
The last time I wrote about a cycling incident on this blog, it was someone else who dashed her chin on the pavement. My entire relationship with her is like that mystery split second – except it lasted several months. In my attempt to recall the events, I allowed my imagination free rein.
Last month I spoke about auto-biographical writing. I’ve been pursuing this lately – particularly during what has been a quiet few months for me with injured voice and now, arm hampering my activities. It’s not been easy. Whatever my understanding of events and relationships, the memory is unreliable, and truth, entirely subjective.
But this is not the stuff of mystery and myth. It is the only truth I know. And so, I write. And if I dip a little too far into the imagination, so be it. At least I’ve written it.
This is my truth. What is yours?

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